Shan Lantee considers himself very lucky to be part of the Terran survey team on the planet Warlock. It’s too bad that nobody pays any attention to him. He’s the youngest and most inexperienced member of the team, so he has to do all the bad jobs that nobody else wants to do, like chasing and rounding up the wolverine scouts every time they escape.
That’s what he was doing when the alien spaceship swooped down and destroyed everyone else in the camp and that’s why Shan is the only human left on a hostile planet. He’s got no weapons and no supplies, just the two wolverines who he hopes to befriend. They’re not alone for long, though, because a man that Shan idolizes shows up to find out what happened on Warlock, and the insectoid alien Throgs arrive to claim the planet for their own. Thus begins a dangerous adventure that will require Shan to learn a lot about Warlock and a lot about himself, too.
Storm Over Warlock, first published by Ace in 1960, is an exciting science fiction story that will appeal to both teens and adults. It’s comparable to the “juveniles” that Robert A. Heinlein was writing back then. Andre Norton’s setting is exotic and Shan Lantee, a youth who’s anxious to prove himself, is easy to sympathize with, as are most of Andre Norton’s protagonists. The Throgs and Warlock’s native species, the Wyverns, though only shallowly developed in this novel, feel truly alien. The two wolverines are a unique and adorable addition — they’re my favorite part of this book.
Storm Over Warlock is in the public domain and can be purchased for free in Kindle format at Amazon. I listened to the 7-hour audio version originally produced by Jimcin Recordings in 2009 and recently distributed in CD format by Brilliance Audio (but it’s cheaper for members at Audible). Jim Roberts gives a slightly wooden performance, but I like his “old SF” voice. You can also find a free volunteer-read audio version at Librivox. I haven’t listened to it, but if you do, please let us know how you like it.
Storm Over Warlock is the first in Andre Norton’s FORERUNNER series and it holds up pretty well in 2013. I will be happy to try the next novel, Ordeal in Otherwhere.
Forerunner — (1960-1985) Publisher: Andre Norton called by Time the “Grande Dame of science fiction,” has created one of the most memorable worlds in SF in the planet humans call Warlock, secretly ruled by the matriarchal Wyverns, an alien race of witches who are masters of mental illusions and dreams. In a sweeping generational saga, the story of Warlock is told by three humans: Shann Lontee was the lowest-ranking member of an exploration team sent to the newly discovered planet Warlock. When the insectile Throgs attacked the base, only he and two trained wolverines escaped. Hunted by the Throgs, he and the wolverines had to survive without technology on an alien world. Then he discovered the Wyvern, who were his only hope — if they weren’t an even more deadly menace than the Throgs… Charis Nordholm was sold into slavery by the outlaw colony on the planet Demeter. The trader, Jogon, who holds her contract, was on his way to Warlock to trade with the Wyvern. But the alien witches had ominous plans of their own, and both Charis and Shann Lantee found themselves fighting for their lives… Ziantho’s mental powers had made her a valuable asset to the interstellar criminals she worked for. Then she encountered a gem of ancient power, an artifact made by the vanished prehistoric race known as the Forerunners, and stole it. Pursued both by the stone’s owners and the agents of the Patrol, she fled across the galaxy and encountered Ris Lantee, o man from the planet Warlock, who alone could solve the powerful gem’s mystery….